Under pressure to reverse course, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller said Tuesday he will continue to block a federal judge nominee whose views on gun rights have been called into question.
The Nevada Republican said he remains firm in opposing Clark County District Judge Elissa Cadish despite calls for the two of them to meet and attempt to resolve the matter.
“The decision’s been made,” Heller said after an appearance at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he addressed about 100 senior citizens enrolled in the university’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has called on Heller to allow the nomination to move forward. President Barack Obama proposed Cadish for the federal bench to replace U.S. District Judge Philip Pro, who has taken senior status that comes with a reduced caseload.
Heller effectively has blocked the Senate Judiciary Committee from holding a confirmation hearing on Cadish by declining to sign a “blue slip” that by tradition signals a home state senator’s green light to proceed.
Cadish was selected by Reid to fill a vacancy that has been declared a “judicial emergency” by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.
He said Tuesday he will not withdraw Cadish’s nomination, declaring her “supremely qualified and one of the most highly respected jurists in the state of Nevada.”
Reid said in a statement it was his understanding that Heller and Cadish were going to meet, “and I am confident that will help resolve the issue.”
Heller was asked about Cadish by an audience member at the UNLV forum.
“There is no meeting set,” Heller said. He said he could meet with Cadish, but his aim would be to tell her personally why he is opposing her.
“I don’t have any reasons not to meet with her to let her know why I don’t support her nomination,” he said.
A spokesman confirmed later that Cadish had called Heller’s office to set up an appointment and that a meeting could be held “in the next couple of weeks.”
Cadish’s nomination hit a snag late last month. While acknowledging he was blocking the nominee, Heller maintained a silence on why until Friday.
The freshman senator up for election in November said he opposed Cadish because of an answer she gave on an issues questionnaire she filled out for a civic group while running for Clark County judge in 2008.
When asked whether individuals have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms, Cadish wrote: “I do not believe that there is this constitutional right. Thus, I believe that reasonable restrictions may be imposed on gun ownership in the interest of public safety. Of course, I will enforce the laws as they exist as a judge.”
The questionnaire surfaced when Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee began doing a background check on Cadish, causing Heller to back away from her and Reid to call for Cadish to explain.
Cadish told Reid in a March 22 letter she was not giving a personal view but rather a view of what some considered an unsettled legal question at the time, before the Supreme Court issued rulings later in 2008 and again in 2010 that held the Second Amendment protects a personal right to possess firearms.
“I’m a supporter of the Second Amendment,” Heller said at UNLV. “I support the Constitution. I believe it’s a constitutional right, not a case-by-case right.”
Reid said Cadish “deserves a hearing to defend herself. It is my hope the process of her nomination is allowed to move forward and she is granted a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
Cadish, who focused on commercial litigation and employment law in the private sector, was appointed to the Clark County District Court bench in 2007 by then-Gov. Jim Gibbons. She won election the next year to a six-year term.
The American Bar Association panel that evaluates federal judge nominees has declared her “unanimously qualified.”
Contact reporter Laura Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2919. Follow her on Twitter @lmyerslvrj. Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at email@example.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.